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It’s Getting Real “At 11 p.m. Friday, the Metrorail system will close and will remain closed all day Saturday and Sunday”

by Prince Of Petworth January 21, 2016 at 4:22 pm 49 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Beau Finley

News of Car2Go’s suspension of service was a shock to the system but now it’s getting really real. From WMATA:

“Metro today announced major service changes and suspensions on Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess in advance of a potentially historic blizzard affecting the National Capital Region. The National Weather Service has issued a Blizzard Warning for the Metro service area from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning, and the effects of the storm are expected to impact the region into early next week.

“This is not a storm that anyone should take lightly, and I would urge all residents to plan to get to a safe place before the storm arrives Friday afternoon,” said Wiedefeld. “The actions we are taking today are all in the interest of our customers’ and employees’ safety, and will help us return to service once the storm passes and the snow is cleared.”

Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld will activate the agency’s Emergency Command Center (ECC) starting at 4 p.m. Friday, with around the clock coverage during the storm. The ECC will coordinate all Metro response efforts, including protecting rail and bus equipment, responding to weather-related problems, and coordinating the clearing of station platforms, parking lots, garages, bus loops, rail yards and storage facilities.


On Friday, Metrorail will open at 5 a.m. with service both above and below ground until 11 p.m.
At 11 p.m. Friday, the Metrorail system will close and will remain closed all day Saturday and Sunday.
Metro will protect hundreds of railcars by storing them in the tunnels during the storm.
Information regarding the restoration of service will be provided via broadcast media outlets, social media, Metro’s website (wmata.com), and the MetroAlerts system (email and text messages).


Bus service will begin the day Friday on a “severe” snow weather plan. Under the severe plan, buses operate only on major corridors. For details on which routes operate under the severe plan, visit wmata.com/snow/severe.
Operating on a “severe” service plan helps to ensure that customers and employees are not stranded once the storm begins.
Bus service will be suspended systemwide at 5 p.m. Friday as the storm moves into the region. The last buses will depart their origin points at 5 p.m. and operate to the end of the route before ending service.
Bus service will remain suspended on Saturday and Sunday.


MetroAccess paratransit service for customers with disabilities will be suspended Friday after 6 p.m.
To prevent customers from being stranded, MetroAccess will not begin any new outbound trips after 1 p.m.
MetroAccess service will remain suspended on Saturday and Sunday.”

  • WTH

    Sounds like a normal weekend to me.

    • TX2DC

      Ha ha good one.

  • RB

    At least we know there won’t be any random assaults at the hands of gangs of teens this weekend on Metro!

  • jcm

    Aw. Guess there’s no chance I’m getting to the ballet Saturday night. I was clinging to a faint hope.

    • textdoc

      Possibly the ballet won’t be making it to the ballet either.

      • Cas

        The show must go on.

        • It’s just me

          A couple years ago, I was going to a concert at the Kennedy Center that was cancelled because of snow. So, it doesn’t always go on. Really glad we saw Gentleman’s Guide last night rather than planning for this weekend.

      • jcm

        Last year we went to the opera during a snowstorm. There were maybe 500 people in that big theater. It was fun. I’m going to try to change my ballet tickets to tomorrow night. Seems like there’s a better chance of a show then.

        • skj84

          I was in that show! It was certainly an experience. Some of the performers couldn’t even make it.

          • jcm

            You were in Carmelites? That’s awesome. We absolutely loved it. I think it was the high point of the season.

        • Sidewalk of Shame

          That sounds amazing.
          I was waiting until the last minute to decide on the ballet, but Metro is my preferred way of getting there and my second choice (Uber) Is probably going to be tough too.

  • FridayGirl

    Does this seal the deal for OPM closing all day tomorrow?!

    • domrep

      We don’t work for the Feds but a co-worker “heard through a friend who has a friend” etc that they’re preparing to close at Noon. But it’s not from OPM itself, so who knows. It would be beyond idiotic if all public transit, public schools, and colleges/universities are closed and OPM is the only entity that decides to stay open. I think they’ll cave to public pressure and close.

      • domrep

        From a logistical standpoint it makes no sense to open, then close 4 hours later and have people get stuck in the beginning of a blizzard. I’d say closure w/people who have to telework working from home.

        • C_petworth

          I predict they will close tomorrow. People are really angry about a botch snow commute last night and no one wants to see that happen two days in one week. If they do close at noon and people hit the roads and hit starts snowing at 1/ or so it will be really ugly out there. From what I gather from co workers the roads were really bad this morning. I think OPM did not put out a delay this am to justify a full day closure tomorrow.

        • Dognonymous

          Well, a lot of feds–and contractors–start much earlier than 8 am. Also, many of us contractors have to use our paid time off if the government closes, so I for one would be thrilled with being open till noon instead. If they’re open, they’ll surely offer permitted unscheduled leave and teleworking anyway, so this would more be for the agencies that don’t allow telework.

      • FridayGirl

        That would be beyond idiotic. If WMATA is on a severe snow plan a significant portion of people can’t get to work.

  • Farragut

    Yep, this is already going to be the worst weekend ever. Stupid work.

  • Am I reading this right? Is the metrobus service on a severe snow storm plan all day tomorrow until 5 when it shuts down?

    • FridayGirl

      I believe it. They said in Bowser’s press conference this morning that they didn’t want to offer service in the morning that they couldn’t provide later in the day. I say good for them — that’s smart.

  • Snow advice needed!

    PoPville, I need advice! I’m a new homeowner (bought a rowhouse in Mount Pleasant a few months ago) and never had to handle snow stuff before this year. I’m going out of town for the weekend — leaving tonight, returning Monday night — which means I won’t be around during the weekend to shovel snow etc.

    I have some snow melt (calcium chloride pellets) but I’m worried that if I put it out now, and then we get 30 inches of snow while I’m gone, the snow melt will just form a layer of ice under two feet of snow, making the whole situation worse. Can putting out snow melt before a really big snowfall backfire, or is it a good idea? Is there anything else I can do before I leave? Would be grateful for any thoughts.

    • FridayGirl

      I’d put it out before you go, although it won’t do much to the snow, it should help any initial icing tomorrow night.

    • Anon Spock

      I’d put it down in case they’re wrong and things aren’t as bad. Maybe you can hire a company to shovel for you over the weekend? Neighbor if they’re trustworthy?

    • anon

      this is a good time to meet your neighbors if you haven’t already! let them know you’ll be away and tell them you’ll repay the favor if they can shovel for you.

      • Sidewalk of Shame

        That’s what I’d do. I know I wouldn’t mind if my neighbors asked. Getting suited up and out there is half the battle, might as well do another sidewalk while I’m at it.

        • +1. I always shovel the sidewalk in front of the neighbors on both sides when I’m out (60′ instead of 20′ isn’t that big of a deal once you’re out). Now they do mine if they get out first.

      • 10thSt

        Maybe have someone check on your house/your pipes/furnace…those problems are much more likely in a rowhouse. In the five years I’ve lived in my rowhouse, all but one neighbor has had major pipes freeze.

      • HaileUnlikely

        No special insight on the salting, but I recommend turning off the main water valve before you leave – obviously nobody wants to have a pipe burst, but it would really really stuck to have water gushing out continuously for several days before you return.

    • AnonV2

      Pay a neighbor right now to shovel your sidewalk and steps. You could put down a layer of salt but with the amount of snow we are expecting you would just end up with a layer of slush under 15″+ of snow. Eventually the snow would get trampled down and you would then have a few inches of ice over a layer of slush. The salt will only work for the stuff it touches directly, and once it gets diluted loses melting power rapidly.

    • jcm

      Might be too late if you’re leaving tonight, but every neighborhood I’ve lived in here has at least one guy who hustles odd jobs, including shoveling snow. You should try to meet that guy in your neighborhood soon.

    • Snow advice needed!

      Thanks very much, everyone. AnonV2’s warning about creating slush/ice spooked me, so I’m not going to put out the calcium chloride pellets, but I did go and meet my next door neighbor and tell her I was going to be out of town. I’m going to ask her if she can help with shoveling in exchange for money/cookies. Much appreciated!

    • Worrywart

      This might be a dramatic suggestion, but if I were a new homeowner I would not leave town this weekend. I would want to keep an eye on the place and be around to mitigate potential damage from power outage, winds, snow on roof, whatever other issues might arise. You also literally might not be able to enter your house when you return on Monday without serious effort, so consider whether you’d prefer to be stuck in or stuck out.

    • Anonymous

      I live in Mt Pleasant (Ingleside) and you should get on a listserv for your street (or start one if you don’t have one). If I asked my neighbors to help me out in a situation like this, I’d have half a dozen offers immediately. We have keys to neighbors’ homes and their cell phone numbers, we share shovels and snow melt and kids’ snowboots, and we wouldn’t hesitate to clear someone’s walk if asked. You moved to a great area. Just ask a neighbor.

  • Anon

    But seriously, this seems like a good idea if the forecast pans out. I wouldn’t be surprised if (pre-Feds) metro tried to push through. Actually, can anyone recall the last time WMATA shut down preemptively like this? Sandy?

    • Cas

      Wash Post says it’s unprecedented.

      • textdoc

        That sounds right to me — my recollection is that even during previous big storms, WMATA continued operating Metrorail within a limited area (below-ground stations only).

  • Shannon Baas

    Cracks me up. Yes, I realize it’s a major blizzard expected. I’m in CO and if it snowed that much, I’d still be expected to be at work. Had a snowslide on the pass near where I live and it was closed for maybe half an hour.

    • Anon X

      Sweet story… Do you have a point?

      • rob

        don’t h8

    • wdc

      How would your town deal with an event that attracts hundreds of thousands of people? Or even a presidential motorcade? This is the sort of thing DC does easily. There’s really no reason for us to get good at snow, since it happens on average twice a year, and at this magnitude, once a decade.

  • Cas

    So are hospital workers supposed to drive in the blizzard instead of take an underground Metro? That’s going to work out really well.

    • Most are required to get there ahead of time and sleep there. That doesn’t mean there won’t be dumb people who try to drive anyway or just call out because they didn’t plan.

      • Cas

        Oh, the sleeping there makes sense.

  • does that mean they will be working on all lines to fix problems? probably not

    • FridayGirl

      I think that would be difficult, considering they are parking the trains in the tunnels so they don’t have to dig them out on Sunday. (I think they’re being as smart as they can given the situation — let’s try to give them a tiny tiny bit of credit.)

  • CPT_Doom

    I am appalled by Metro’s refusal to open Sunday. The snow was always predicted to be over by Sunday morning,and the forecast for Sunday is for at least some sun and temperatures in the mid to high 30s. Unlike 2010, when the temperatures following the snow were bitterly cold, this stuff is going to melt relatively quickly. Certainly the major roads will be usable NLT mid-day Sunday.

    After 26 years in DC, I have come to accept the regional freak out over our every 5 years or so snowstorms, but that is ridiculous. Metro is not a private agency, they are a public transit system that people, especially poor people, rely on to get to their jobs. How many people are going to face difficulties paying rent, utilities, for food, etc. because they lose a weekend’s pay? How many small businesses will be unable to survive losing an entire weekend’s receipts?

    Yes, I realize that employees have to get in, etc., but every other company I know of has a plan to deal with bad weather (i.e., I’ll be one of the few going into the office today, because I live close by). This is an epic FAIL by Metro.

    • JohnH

      2 feet of snow will NOT melt “quickly” unless it’s 70 degrees out. Some will melt in the 30s, but the forecast for Sunday is 35 – that likely means it will be above freezing for a few hours. So if we do get 2 feet as predicted, they will have to dig everything out on Sunday.

    • JohnH

      This also gives people adequate warning to make other plans if necessary. If they said they were going to be open and they had all sorts of issues, you’d be jumping on them. It’s a no win situation.

    • west_egg

      Looking at numbers from the 2010 storm it’s clear that ridership dropped precipitously. According to the GM, staying closed (rather than running underground-only service) will allow them to recover and get back to full operations more quickly. I think this was the right call.


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